I may be an Orioles fan, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate other teams and other players.
(Hey, not so fast there, Toronto Blue Jays. I didn’t mean you.)
I’ve made no secret that 42-year-old New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon is my little dumpling. Like here.
First, he’s 42. (I remember being 42. I promise you, it wasn’t that long ago.) He’s also pitched 170 innings this season which is more than any of the much-younger Orioles starters has done.
Second, he is built like a dumpling. His stats will tell you he is 5’11” and 265 pounds, but really, who knows?
Third, he doesn’t care what you think.
Fourth, he makes the occasional crazy play like this …
And, that is definitely worth a tip of the cap from me.
P.S. According to Associated Press, Colon is the first pitcher, in “at least” the past 100 years, to beat the same opponent while playing with seven different teams. (The seven teams: Indians, White Sox, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, A’s, Mets.) The team that Colon beats … over and over again, no matter what team he plays for? The Orioles, of course. (Because, why else would I even mention this?)
It’s a mighty pretty “around the horn” 5-4-3 triple play. It’s worth watching simply to see the magnificent Jose Altuve turning that play on second. Watch here.
The Astros went on to defeat the Detroit Tigers 3-2. It was the Astros first triple play since 2004.
The Pittsburgh Pirates also turned a triple play this season. On May 9, their triple play was the first 4-5-4 triple play in baseball history. Watch here.
While triple plays are rare, there have been only two seasons since 1876 that had no triple plays at all – 1961 and 1974. (If you think I went through all 700 triple plays one by one to find that single fact for you, you are correct.)
And, your Sunday bonus … the hidden ball trick!
In the semifinals of the Colorado Class 2A High School Baseball Championship on Saturday, the Rye High Thunderbolts executed a perfect hidden ball trick to end the game.
With two outs and the tying run on second in the ninth, the Thunderbolts pitcher fakes a high pick-off throw to second. The second baseman and outfield further the grift by pretending to hustle after the “errant throw.” The runner on second takes the bait and takes off. The pitcher runs over and tags him out with the ball still in his glove. Game over. Watch here.
“We weren’t real sure if it was going to work,” according to Rye Coach Stacey Graham. “We practice it quite a bit and we ran it one time successfully, and it worked again. It’s a tough play to do and the guys executed it real well.”
Rye High, a tiny school with just 225 students, won the game 9-8 and went on to win the state championship later that afternoon.
I’m pausing from my days-long Ripken-is-better-than-Jeter email exchange with my baseball guru Jay, to share a non-Jeter moment from last night.
(I like Derek Jeter and all, but Cal Ripken was better. Jay disagrees.)
But, this isn’t about the oldsters …
I used to think that the Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, just 22, would be baseball’s next great superstar.
But, his knees are wobbly.
One knee surgery kept him out of the lineup until May. Then surgery on the other knee ended his season in August.
The Orioles could certainly use a third baseman – as in someone actually schooled in playing third and not a journeyman tucked in over there and told to just dive at anything that comes remotely close and could be a baseball and try not to break anything. (It’s rarely pretty.)
Manny should be a-ok by next Opening Day. And, maybe he will be back to superstar form. Or, maybe those knees … those wobbly, unreliable knees … oh, I can’t even say it.
Manny did not take the Orioles to the post-season this year – they got there with those journeymen and other guys, giant holes at third, and very little Manny.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, on the other hand, owe a lot to baseball’s just 23, superstar, centerfielder Mike Trout.
That’s all. I just wanted to make sure you saw that.
The Baltimore Orioles and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California will both be in the post-season.
(I’ll be cheering the Manny-less Orioles, of course, but those Trout-full Angels are very good.)
Oh, and back to the Ripken vs. Jeter thing for just a second …
Our friend Jay argues that part of why Derek Jeter is a greater player than Cal Ripken is because he won more World Series (5 vs. 1). This, of course, means that Aubrey Huff(two World Series victories) is a greater player than Ted Williams, Willie McCovey, Ken Griffey, Jr., Harmon Killebrew, and Rod Carew, who won zero.
I argue that Cal Ripken is a greater player than Derek Jeter because he is.
A few years ago, when I was quite small, my mom got me this …
(And, by “a few years ago”, I mean, “some years ago” … maybe “a few of a few years past” … and, well … you know, math is stupid.)
Anyway, not quite 100 years ago, my mom got me this …
For those of you who are older than magnets (you know who you are), Wooly Willy’s bare head was surrounded by metal shavings. So, with the “magic” magnetic pencil you could move the shavings around and give Willy hair and a beard and a mustache.
(So, really, you were just creating your own version of the Red Sox.)
As a very precocious youngster, who didn’t quite understand the connection between metal and magnets, I decided it would be interesting if, before fixing Willy’s hair, I could first examine the metal shavings up close. So I broke into my Wooly Willy and poured the shavings on the ground.
(And, by “on the ground”, I mean, on the asphalt, because we were still in the parking lot of Long’s Drug, where we had gotten the thing just five minutes earlier.)
This didn’t improve my understanding of metallurgy. But, it did massively annoy my mother. And, having broken the plastic lid, I never did get to give Willy a metal beard or mohawk, because no way, no how, was my mom getting me another one.
The moral of this story is simple.
Don’t trust children with things.
Most important, don’t trust children with things that are meaningful to you. Like the foul ball you just caught.
They call a double play in baseball “turning two” which is poetic and beautiful. And, that is what a double play is.
It is often a ballet, seemingly effortless, but dependent upon practice, instinct, poise, and power. If you’re lucky, it will also include a pirouette.
Double plays can make brilliant poetry.
These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double.
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
~ Franklin Pierce Adams, New York Evening Mail, 1910
(Oh, go ahead, look up “gonfalon.” I’ll wait.)
The trio of shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers, and first baseman Frank Chance played together for the Chicago Cubs from 1902 to 1912.
Don’t let it trouble you that Tinker and Evers admittedly hated each other, once got into a vicious fist-fight on the field, and didn’t speak to each other for several seasons.
And, don’t let it trouble you that they didn’t “invent” the double play … or turn a record number … or were even particularly good at it. Just accept that some folks become legends because of good writing or good timing.
Dickey Pearce, who played in the 1860s and 70s, is thought to have turned the roving “short field” position into the more territorial shortstop position that we know today, and, in doing so, may have invented, or developed, or, at least, refined the double play.
Public Domain image.
Dickey Pearce is the one in the back. Dig those uniforms!
Historian Brian McKenna believes that Pearce’s double plays included intentionally dropping routine fly balls, allowing for easy outs as the runners on base hesitated while waiting to tag up. He is why we have the infield fly rule today.
(Dickey Pearce also invented the bunt, so he is kind of, sort of the Thomas Edison of early baseball.)
The double play is my favorite thing in baseball, unless my team is batting.
In 1949, the Philadelphia Athletics turned 217 in a single season, the most ever.
The Baltimore Orioles have “turned two” 107 times this season, leading all of baseball, and are on pace for 175.
This is both a testament to the Orioles’ defensive abilities and an admission that one can’t “turn two” unless one has already put at least one on.
And, speaking of “turning two” …
This blog turns two this week.
In the past two years I have churned out 118 posts. This is slightly more than one a week which surprises me, since I should be doing useful things each week like cleaning out the basement and resealing the kitchen countertop.
But, apparently, I am not doing those things. I am doing these blog things.
That you have stopped by to read this (when you probably should be cleaning out your basement and resealing your kitchen countertop) is quite kind of you. Thank you.
WordPress says that “tens of thousands” of blogs are created here every day.
People who count these sorts of things estimate that the vast majority of those blogs will be abandoned within one month.
So, I’m feeling rather sassy about my 118 posts.
When I was in fifth grade I decided I would be a writer. At the time, I just wanted to write about tigers.
I regularly wore out the ribbon of my dad’s typewriter until my folks got me my own typewriter for my 12th birthday (manual), another one for my high school graduation (electric), and a third for my college graduation (a strange Tron-like thing that I still have, but never used; I didn’t have the heart to tell my mom that no one was really using typewriters anymore).
I ran out of tiger storylines somewhere around junior high. Then I decided I would be the next Dorothy Parker. I went through a Eudora Welty phase. And, then I decided to become a girl Thomas Boswell.
This is not to suggest that I am THE Baseball Bloggess, although I am because I have the URL to prove it.
It is mainly because my friends who travel goose my stats by checking my blog from exotic, far-off places like Brazil, Croatia, Nepal, Pakistan, and Tunisia, and so I have been known to say that I am a “world famous baseball bloggess,” even though I am not.
But, I like to write. And, I like to write about baseball. Occasionally, Yoga. But, mostly, baseball.
Here’s to “turning two.”
A special thank you to my occasionally irascible, but always wonderful, Editor/Husband who watches baseball with me, and really, truly does read and edit these posts, and makes them infinitely better (most of the time). If I screw up a fact or mess up on grammar, it’s my fault, not his.
His plays in the field are seldom flashy, simply because he positions himself so well, that he rarely has to overcorrect. (It’s often those over-correctors who make the highlight reels with their crazy chin-first swan dives into the ground.)
His uniform stays pretty clean in the field.
He made NO errors in 2013. He played right field in 155 games – all nine innings in 152 of them – and made NO errors. NO errors in his 74 games this season either.
I bet YOU made an error at work last year. Nick Markakis did not.
Trust me, it’s not for lack of work. It’s not like the Orioles crack team of starting pitchers is striking everybody out.
His glove stays plenty busy.
He is stellar in the outfield. But, unheralded, because he goes about his business without grandstanding.
Just one Gold Glove. (2011)
He is steady and reliableas the Orioles leadoff hitter, batting .298 this season. (Geek Alert: .358 OPB/.410 Slugging).
But, no showing off, no fancy home run handshakes, no bat flipping, no jawing at umpires.
And, in nine big league seasons NO All-Star Game appearance.
And, that just stinks.
So, Vote for Nick.
Because he does this …
And, this …
(Yes, they won.)
And, this …
And, that was just in June.
Or, as Orioles’ Manager Buck Showalter says, “He makes our highlight reel every night.”
Sadly, in a moment of weakness, I started to compile my own list.
It was stupid. And, so I stopped.
If you love baseball, then you already know why it will always be far superior to football.
In the same way that cats and dogs are far superior to Sea Monkeys. Which is to say VERY, VERY Super Superior.
Sea Monkeys: Bitter Disappointment
If you’re still wavering, I don’t know what I can say to convince you. Maybe you watch football the same way many NASCAR fans watch auto racing — just waiting to see someone get smooshed, flattened, tackled, or sacked.
Baseball avoids carnage and bloodshed whenever possible. When it does happen, no one cheers. This, bottom line, is why it will always be superior to football in my book.
Hey, I know football. I was a San Francisco 49ers fan for many, many years. But, I boycott it now, because it is increasingly grisly, unnecessarily violent, and has destroyed the quality of life for many former athletes (from NFL-level players to the unfortunate high school and college players who are reminded about rough hits when the arthritis starts to set in around age 30). I yammered on about my boycott last season here.
Oh, sure you can Google “football is better than baseball” and some links will come up.
I found a list of 25 reasons – shared by CBS Sports. Why is football better than baseball? I kid you not, this was reason three.
#3. Football statistics are simple and involve little mathematics to compute.
If the lack of math is really the thing that makes football superior, I’m still marveling that this guy was able to coherently count to 25 for his list.
OK, let’s try a little football math:
2 Touchdowns + 1 Touchdown – 1 Missed Point After + 2 Field Goals + 1 Safety = How Many Points? *
OK, how about this:
1 3-Run Homer = How Many Runs? **
Oh, goodie, there’s more.
#17. Coaches spend more time coaching in football. Baseball managers only manage.
This doesn’t even make sense. It’s gibberish.
#23. Football rivalries are bitter and plentiful.
You’re joking, right?
Dodgers vs. Giants? Yankees vs. Red Sox?
Yankees vs. everyone else?
Baseball teams play 162 games a season – even more if you make it to the playoffs and World Series. 162 games is a lot of games and a lot of time to brew some historic rivalries.
Heck, baseball rivalries are so hot, even the managers get in fights – as the Orioles’ Buck Showalter and Yankees’ Joe Girardi proved just a few nights ago. Click here. (Go Buck!)
If you’re a football team and you’re playing another team just once a season, if that, I’m not sure how a lasting rivalry can even start. “Hi, you must be the Jacksonville Jaguars. I guess we’re playing you today. Gosh, I didn’t even know there was a team here. What state is this?”
His number one reason why football is better?
#1. Football is the ultimate team sport. All 11 players are involved on every play.
Does he even realize that an entirely DIFFERENT football team plays offense than the one that plays defense? Add in special teams – and it’s a THREE-TEAM “team sport”. As I’m sure you know, a baseball player is expected to play both offense and defense (except for those pitcher/DH guys in the American League.)
What to take away from this thoughtful list?
When dining out with football fans, be a pal and offer to calculate the tip for them. It will save them from math-phobic paralysis.
Now, back to baseball.
Here’s one George Carlin missed.
Baseball is better than football, because in baseball you, the fan, can catch a ball. If you catch it, you get to keep it.
You can even bring your glove to help you out.
If you make a clean catch, the fans around you will cheer.
It happens at every game in every ballpark every night.
And, on Tuesday night, a grandmother celebrated her birthday at the Giants’ game. Took her glove. And, snagged a souvenir.
Many years ago, I had a neighbor who was an elderly widow. One morning she went outside and discovered that someone — we never found out who – had deposited a healthy, little puppy in her front yard. It was clearly not an accident. We decided that someone knew how lonely our neighbor was and decided she needed a companion. She named her puppy Lucky. And, yeh, he was a pretty lucky pup. He was lucky our neighbor was up to a task she didn’t ask for. She kept good care of her pup, although a bit of housetraining would have been a nice touch.
So, let’s talk about luck.
Because the notion of luck often rankles me.
Has anyone ever told you that your success or the fruits of your efforts were lucky? Someone once told me, quite kindly, that I was very lucky that my massage therapy practice was doing well during such tough economic times.
Luck? That’s it? I’m just lucky? OK, maybe. But, maybe, just maybe — and I’m going out on a limb here — but maybe, my clients have found some value in my work. Maybe I’m good at my job. I know they didn’t mean anything rude by it. And, yes, I do believe that random things happen that influence one’s success or failure. Right time, right place. That can lead to a bit of good luck. But, to suggest that someone’s good fortune is pure luck … well, that’s just unfair.
And, you know what? Maybe, just maybe, the Baltimore Orioles are more than lucky, too. Maybe, they’re a good baseball team.
I am so tired of the so-called baseball experts who have decided that since the Orioles’ success this year doesn’t fit into their neat little mold of what makes a team good … that the statistics show that the Orioles should be no better than average … that there’s no way they could possibly be in a pennant race in September … then, surely, the only answer is that they have been lucky.
This has gone on all season. The chatter started already in April. They couldn’t explain why the Orioles were winning. That’s because there’s no easy way to chart intangibles – like team dynamics, players improving over previous seasons, or the zen-like influence of a manager like the Orioles’ Buck Showalter. And, without the intangibles, yeh, sure, the Orioles sort of looked beatable on paper. So, without bothering to think through the intangibles, a lot of sports talkers – ESPN, SportsIllustrated, and, just yesterday, National Public Radio among them – decided the Orioles had to be simply lucky.
I say, they’re wrong. Baseball statisticians haven’t found a way to quantify intangibles. But, that doesn’t mean those intangibles don’t exist.
If luck drove sports, then wouldn’t every team hover around .500? A little good luck. A little bad luck.
Or, how about this — maybe everything is luck. If the Orioles win a game, are they lucky? Sure. They’re lucky it didn’t rain and stop the game. They’re lucky that their winning pitcher didn’t fall down the dugout steps and dislocate his shoulder before the game. They’re lucky that the losing team scored fewer runs.
Every team has their good luck. And, their bad luck.
But, luck doesn’t exist in a vacuum. What those “experts” call luck, I call a good mixture of talent, heart, skills, and smarts. The Intangibles (which, by the way, would be a terrific title for an action movie).
In the case of the Orioles game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night, I guess you could say the O’s are lucky that their superstar rookie is Manny Machado and not Bryce Harper.
And, here’s just one reason why. Enjoy one of the most beautiful, exciting, and head’s up defensive plays of the year, courtesy of a 20-year-old rookie. Did he just get lucky? You decide.